Friday, February 14, 2014

Adventures in India

After we left Singapore we landed in New Delhi to explore India. Our bucket list involved seeing the Taj Mahal and we wanted to make sure we did this before the baby arrived.  Our hotel in New Delhi was pretty hilarious. It was all decorated for New Years Eve and all of the decor was so extravagant and extreme. Every time we entered it we couldn't help but laugh. 





Our first day we went and found some monuments. We went to a Hindu temple called Laxminarayan. It is still an active temple and people go to pay tribute each day and to offer prayer. When we went we were told to take our shoes off and we even had to lock up all our belongings and were under strict orders not to take pictures inside. We only got one of the outside. Its a pretty cool place. 



Next we went to Humayun's tomb in Delhi. This place was really beautiful. The architecture is really breathtaking. There are three buildings on the location. He is buried in this tomb and it reminded us a lot of the Taj Mahal. It is crazy to think that these buildings are completely empty except for a single concrete tomb. 






That night we went to a night bazaar that was pretty amazing. The street is covered with pashmina tablecloths, souvenirs, silver, jewelry, antiques, and lots of scarves. The prices of everything were so cheap and you could also bargain here. I loved looking at everything. We ended up getting some silver salad serving spoons, jewelry, and a hand carved wooden elephant. I love the elephant because inside (magically!) there is a little baby elephant in there. I have no idea how they carved that little babe into the belly but it reminded me of my little babe in my belly and I thought it would be a fun memory of being pregnant in India. 








The next day we woke up at 2am to head to catch sunrise at the Taj Mahal. We were staying in Delhi and the Taj is in a city called Agra, which is about 4 hours away. We had hired a driver to get us there and a tour guide met us there to take us around. I am so glad that we ended up hiring a tour guide. It made me appreciate the Taj Mahal so much when we had someone walking us around and explaining everything to us. I learned so much that day about the emperor and how he built it in memory of his wife and is buried inside with her. We were not allowed to take pictures inside, and we had to wear booties on our shoes. Everything was so ornate and lots of detail with limestone inlay everywhere. It was really cold and the sun wasn't exactly present, but when the day started it was so nice to beat the crowd and the Taj Mahal really IS beautiful, vast and amazing. 





Our tour guide was so educated and knowledgeable about the Taj Mahal. He says he does about 10 tours a week and he has been doing them for about 20 years. He showed us everything and explained the process of how they built the structure and with what. He also was a great picture taker and I am glad we got good ones! 



Right when we exited the Taj Mahal Camel transportation was lined up to give rides to the tourists. We wanted to walk to get exercise but it was pretty cool to see camels. We also saw wild monkeys just walking around. They are actually pretty crazy animals! These are not nice and cuddly things. 



We then went to the Red Fort, which is where the emperor was imprisoned by his own Son for about 9 years before he passed away. This place was a pretty nice place to be in prison. It looks out over the Taj Mahal. 



This concluded our tour and then we made the 4 hour drive back to Delhi. It was a long day and we were pretty tired but we were glad that we got to experience the Taj Mahal.

Our last few days we wanted to explore the city, so we set out to take the subway system to go visit a shopping town street. The subway is packed and really busy. There was a lot of pushing and cramming into small spaces. Coming from Shanghai, I was surprised that the subway system could be any more busy, but in India it was. The women have a separate car that they can travel in. We didn't know that at first, so Peyton entered into the car and was shooed away by some angry old ladies. Oops! When we exited the subway exit there was wild monkeys everywhere! It was so crazy to just see them hanging out. They are not nice and there were signs everywhere warning us to be cautious of them. They really loved food and would steal bags of food right out of peoples hands. 




There are also a lot of stray dogs everywhere in India. At first I was so confused by this. They literally just walk around without owners taking up spots in parks and napping in streets. They were everywhere! 

We arrived at the shopping street called "Chandi Chowk". I have a hard time describing this place but it was definitely a new experience for me. To be honest, India was a bit hard for me in terms of poverty. There are a lot of people who are homeless and lots of shoeless children asking for money. We did not see any other tourists, so we were definitely targets for beggars. It didn't bother me much, but it broke my heart. One little boy came up and was tapping on our window asking for food. I had a bag of snacks and I gave him all of my granola bars. I then closed the door and bawled my eyes out. I have never seen this vast amount of poverty before. It made me feel so grateful for everything that I have. 









We were so happy to see a McDonalds because we were told to be really careful with Indias food selection because of parasites. We walked in, and the menu include ZERO beef. There were tofu burgers and lots of chicken. We were laughing that there was one item called the "Chicken Maharaja Mac." One of Peyton and my favorite things to do is see what they serve at the different McDonalds. Before traveling, I guess I assumed everywhere just had the same selections. Not the case! Especially in Shanghai, they have rice, corn and shrimp burgers. Oh my! 


 One thing I have really appreciated from traveling is seeing how the world lives. Everywhere that I go, it is so different. I love seeing how the locals do things and how it differs from what I am used to. I am so grateful that I get to go to these places and experience lots of different culture and experiences. India was very different than everywhere I have ever been. It was a great eye opener!